Data center acquisition gives fiber provider space to colocate DAS, small cell and other technologies at the “intelligent edge”
One of the key components of deploying an in-building wireless system, whether it’s a distributed antenna system, a small cell or a hybrid of the two, is finding the space to locate the equipment. For the signal source, this is usually in a basement or IT room. In dense, urban setting, it’s commonplace to see a neutral host provider create a base station pool or hotel that colocates equipment for several buildings in one area to realize a cost savings associated with power consumption and physical footprint.
To leverage its fiber holdings while simultaneously providing an expanded value proposition, New York City-based Cleareon Fiber Networks is investing in data center acquisitions. The company picked up some assets last year and again in January. The company is looking to enable what it calls the “intelligent edge,” a combination of fiber, roof rights, power plants and now data center space to support DAS, small cell, fronthaul, internet of things and cloud services.
“As with our 2017 acquisition, these assets complement Cleareon’s existing dark fiber and lit services portfolio by strengthening our position at the intelligent edge of networking technology and service deployment,” co-CEO Cliff Kane said in a statement. “We aren’t simply offering dark fiber or lit services or even data center services. We’re offering premium access solutions while readying NYC for 5G, cloud, IoT and other promising wireless-enabled applications—right now.”
The idea behind 5G, the still-developing standard for next-generation wireless services, is to provide wireless support for three primary use cases: enhanced mobile broadband, massive internet of things and mission critical communications that tap 5G’s ultra low latency and multi-gigabit throughput. But to provide all of these advanced wireless services, a fiber-deep wired network is key. Carriers and neutral host providers are investing heavily in fiber densification; consider Verizon’s $2 billion multi-year deal with Corning, just one of many long-term deals to expand the nationwide fiber optic plant.
In a recent blog post, CommScope Solutions Architect Craig Culwell highlights the convergence of fiber and wireless. “Most networks have both fixed and wireless connectivity. All applications will at some point run through both. It’s the delivery of services that needs to be increasingly more efficient to manage and implement.”
Cullwell highlighted what needs to happen in central offices to support emerging services:
—“Central offices are going to have to support more services than they do today.
—“Edge data center functionality will be deployed in central offices.
—“Fiber management equipment is needed to support evolving deployment needs.
—“Equipment needs to be flexible to support evolving deployment needs.”
This brings us back to Cleareon’s idea of the intelligent edge. In a hyper-connected world, the only way to get the bandwidth necessary to support current and future services is to provide the fiber network needed to support increasing bandwidth demands, while also enabling the IoT and cloud-type services. To make this cost-effective for commercial real estate owners, it’s important to understand the cost dynamics related to on-premise or off-premises equipment, as well as whether to invest or buy through a neutral host provider.